End of the summer movies, a slightly depressing season for me. This is when the big summer blockbusters have come and gone and we are treated to the lesser known films, the ones that tend to do significantly less at the box office than most. Every now and then we get the honor of seeing a stand out movie that truly exceeds in originality and entertainment. Then we have Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World; a piece of cinema that only half succeeds.
I feel like an outcast here, everyone seems to love this movie. Now is this a bad film? Not at all, but is it a great film? Not by a long shot. This is my opinion and nothing I say is the final word, so save the hate mail for another time. I feel as if people are focusing on style over substance, not necessarily a bad thing but it does not deserve the praise that it has been getting.
The title character is played by Michael Cera (I’ll get to him in a moment) who falls for a girl who goes by the name Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), but in order to date each other in peace; Scott must defeat all seven of her evil exes. Sounds like a brief synopsis right? Wrong, that is the entire plot. We get a few moments of redemption where lessons are learned but it is too little too late. We spend the entire film introducing the exes, but that’s where that “style” I was referring to comes into play.
Edgar Wright directs this ambitious project; Mr. Wright is one of the most promising directors I have seen in a long time. He oozes originality and independence; Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are absolutely fantastic pieces of work. Which is why I went into this with high expectations, perhaps knowing those couldn’t be met? This is his first big budget studio film ($60 million) and he obviously has a certain style and a love for all things entertaining, but — eh.
Scott Pilgrim is this generation’s movie, reflecting the gamer culture very heavily and smashes pop culture references together into a unique experience. Actually the film is structured like a video game, the introduction of characters, the visuals, the fact that weapons appear out of nowhere much like that of an RPG or a traditional hack-n-slash game. Wright captures this perfectly, knowing that this is a literal translation of a comic book; he can do whatever he damn well pleases. Which I find refreshing and daring, this is Comix Zone: The Movie.
This is pure eye candy from beginning to end, which is a blast to watch. Music is classic 8-bit sample from The Legend of Zelda and other NES titles, which make me feel that Wright is a huge fanboy of epic proportions. I love the references and the comic look and feel, but that’s also the problem. Within this entire visual splendor is a sub par story and underdeveloped characters.
I find the casting to be well done for the most part, the exes is where they hit the mark perfectly. Chris Evans (Sunshine) and Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) are fantastic as the incredibly self centered a-holes, the rest of the supporting cast really stand out; especially the unexpected cameos from Tom Jane and Clifton Collins Jr. This brings me to Michael Cera, my biggest complaint with this film. Call it nit picking if you’d like, but I am absolutely sick of him. From Arrested Development to Superbad he always plays the same character; that nasally, whiny, uncomfortable kid. He attempts to branch out here but fails miserably.
Not to mention that Cera is in three movies a year, this is absurd. I speak for everyone here when I say that we’ve had enough. Which transitions me into my biggest complaint, I don’t care. I felt no connection to Scott Pilgrim or his problems, so I honestly rooted for the bad guys throughout the entire thing. I had no interest in seeing the main character succeed at all, which completely cut me off from the already thinned out story. I felt closer to the action gods from The Expendables.
Not all is lost though; the biggest compliment I can give the film is that the fight scenes were absolutely superb. Wide angle shots combined with spectacular choreography is something you don’t generally see in modern films, we usually get close up, gritty and quick cut action. So I was pleasantly surprised with that, not to mention the use of fuller’s earth. Which is a technique pioneered by Chang Chang Ho on the film King Boxer; it was a powder that was used to heighten the intensity of the fight scenes. As well as some wire work that was created by Yuen Woo Ping for 70’s kung fu films.
At the end of the day, Scott Pilgrim is a mixed bag. Combining old with the new but falling short in the long run; paying homage to a past that clearly has inspired. Like I said before, this movie isn’t terrible. It just isn’t as great as expectations made it out to be, ultimately forgettable. I would just wait for it on Blu-ray and DVD when that time comes around. 6/10